Friday, August 10, 2012

He Should Try ERAM

Neal Conan is my all-time favorite host on NPR. He hosts Talk of the Nation. It's probably just luck of the draw -- his time slot coincided with a lot of my shifts as an air traffic controller. I'd listen to him on the drive back and forth from work. Anyway, I've come to have a deep respect for his intellect and skill as a radio host.

But about a month or so ago, I started noticing problems. There was a glitch in his speech pattern. There were pauses, hiccups and just a lot of bumps in the road. You don't realize how smooth he makes everything flow until he doesn't. It makes it more difficult to focus on the subject and you could tell it was really frustrating to Neal. Is he getting old and just slowing down? Nah, it's just his "new and improved" technology. His show has installed some new voice switching..I'm sorry...telephone switching system. It sounds like it's on a computer screen. Whatever it is, it isn't getting any better. Last week's show (I'm catching up on podcasts) had more "dead air" than any show I've ever heard him host.

So, if you're an air traffic controller and you're looking for a sympathetic journalist that can understand the human/machine interface problems that can arise in a new system, I think I've found your man. (The link will lead you to the audio if you'd like to listen. The real problems start around the 21 minute mark.)

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"CONAN: Let's see if we can go next to - oh, boy, I'm having trouble with this machine again today. I apologize. And we're just having a problem hanging up on people. That's normally not my problem."

For those that need a primer: ERAM

Don Brown
August 10, 2012

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